Stop by our booth #501 at AEC Next in Anaheim, CA May 21-23, 2019. We look forward to seeing you there!
This month, Autodesk released Revit 2020. As with every new major release of Revit, there are quite a few significant updates to our favorite BIM authoring tool. Below are just a few of the features which are new or improved for Revit 2020:
•PDF underlay support
•Improvements for electrical systems
•Several improvements for structural systems
•Support for Sketchup 2018 import
•New Export Fabrication Data tool
•Path of Travel tool
•“Autodesk Steel Connections 2020” Dynamo package
•Copy and paste legends across sheets
•Improved OR in view filters
•Improvements for MEP systems
•Imported geometry (aka direct shapes) can now be split into Parts
If you would like to learn of the full list of changes in Revit 2020, including bug fixes, check out the release notes here.
It looks like there are quite a few improvements made in this version, but in today’s post I’ll highlight just one feature in particular that would have changed my life if I were still the boots-on-the-ground Revit modeler; the ability to import a PDF to a Revit model. This has been on my personal wish list, as well as thousands of others, for years and it looks like Autodesk has finally delivered as a new feature in Revit 2020.
Why Are PDF Underlays Important?
In our industry, many of the documents that are shared throughout project teams are in the PDF file format including specifications, catalog sheets, schedules, and of course drawings. There are often times that these documents need to be added to a set of drawings. This is where Revit has failed us in the past, because the sheets live in Revit and Revit had no ability to import PDFs.
In addition, legacy drawings of as-built conditions can often come in PDF format. These drawings are a critical piece to any tenant improvement and the ability to reference them directly in a model are extremely helpful. Ideally, you would receive these drawings in a CAD file format (dwg), however Revit users will often find themselves in a bind when only a set of PDFs are available. For example, consider scanned hand-drawn plans, which are typically shared as image or PDF files.
Prior to Revit 2020, the only way to load a PDF within a Revit model was to convert it to another file format first. We’ve all developed work arounds to convert PDFs to either DWG or image file format just to bring them into Revit. This workflow adds an extra step each time updates are made to any PDFs that need to be included as part of a Revit project.
How Does It Work?
Autodesk’s implementation of this new feature in Revit 2020 is fairly straightforward because they’ve simply added PDFs to the existing Manage Images tool, with some added benefits. In general, PDFs appear to function similar to loaded images within a Revit project because PDFs are added to specific views, rather than as model elements.
Revit 2020 Supports Multiple Page PDFs
One of the main differences that sets PDFs apart from other image files is the ability to store multiple pages. Once loaded into Revit 2020, the team will have visibility of which PDF pages are loaded into the project by the page number appended to the end of the filename. Of course, you’ll also have the ability to add multiple pages from the same PDF and this will help you keep track of them.
Enable Snaps in PDFs Loaded into Revit 2020
Another major advantage of using PDFs as opposed to images is the vector graphics that PDFs can contain. This is extremely useful, particularly with legacy drawings that have been converted to PDF from CAD because these drawings are often referenced for as-built conditions. In fact, these vector-based PDFs can contain geometry that is as accurate as a CAD file.
With this new feature in Revit 2020, users can Enable Snaps of the vectors of an imported PDFs. Keep in mind that not all PDFs will allow this setting in Revit 2020. The PDF cannot be composed of raster graphics in order to enable snaps because Revit cannot snap to pixels of a bitmap. Keep this in mind because one of the most common sources of raster PDFs is a scanned as-built drawing, which again, will not have the ability to enable snaps.
Now consider that you are starting a project in Revit 2020 and it is a tenant improvement. You have a set of as-built drawings, but they’re in PDF format. With this new feature in Revit 2020, you’ll be able to load the PDF as an underlay and enable snaps. You’ll now have a much simpler workflow while modeling the existing conditions because you’ll now have the ability to pick lines as a reference to model walls.
In addition, users will also have the ability to measure lines on PDFs that have snaps enabled in Revit 2020. Unfortunately, this feature doesn’t have the ability to be dimensioned. We can only hope that is planned for roll-out in Revit 2020.1.
For a video demonstration on how to use PDFs in a Revit 2020 projects, head over to YouTube and check out this video from Autodesk.
UNIFI Pro Revit 2020 Add-in
You’ll be happy to know that the UNIFI Pro Revit 2020 add-in is available now! Contact us to get started with UNIFI today.
Sharing Revit materials can be tricky, especially among distributed teams in multiple offices. Autodesk requires material assets to be shared using an ADSKLIB file which is essentially a bundle of XML files (along with other files) to help Revit keep track of where the material assets are stored. Like any file that requires a path to be hard-coded, this makes it very difficult to share these assets because it means every user must have access to the file location that the assets are stored. I think it goes without saying that this is a less than ideal situation for a firm who would like to share files over a wide network of users.
The good news is, as of UNIFI 3.2, users have the ability to easily share Revit materials with their entire team (as well as other teams) in the cloud.
Share Revit Materials With UNIFI
By storing Revit materials in UNIFI, you’re granted all of the power to organize them just like any other piece of content such as metatags, multiple libraries, revision history, automatic Revit version upgrades, and star-ratings.
Revit materials really are not like any other piece of content, so there are some additional features that we’ve added which give you improved workflows and visibility of the data associated with this new type of content.
Grouped By Material Class
When browsing your Revit material library in UNIFI, you’ll notice that the materials are grouped by class. These classes can be any custom classes that you’ve defined in a Revit project as they will be exported along with the material. Below is an example of our class we created call “wood”.
Look at all of that sweet metadata! You now have star-ratings, multiple libraries, revisions, and tags at your disposal to help you manage Revit materials.
Visibility of Revit Material Properties
We wouldn’t expect your team to know if a material is what they need for their project simply by looking at the preview image, so visibility of the Revit materials properties directly in UNIFI is a critical component. Drill down into an individual Revit material by clicking on its name and you’ll see the material properties with multiple tabs for you to browse through prior to loading it into your project.
Using Revit Materials
When it comes to managing Revit materials, sharing them in the cloud is only solving half the problem. The other half is interoperability with a Revit project. Luckily, we already have tools implemented which allow you to easily export and import materials into a Revit project.
Exporting Revit Materials to UNIFI
Exporting Revit materials from a Revit project and importing them into your UNIFI libraries is as streamlined as one would expect. Simply use the same Batch Export tool that you would use to export loadable families, system families, schedules, and drafting views. From within a Revit project, navigate to the new “Materials” item in the selection tree which allows you to select entire material classes or individual Revit materials to export to your libraries.
Once uploaded, the Revit materials will be ready to share with the rest of your team, or even external teams, as needed.
Change Management for Revit Materials
UNIFI will track revisions to Revit materials just like any other piece of content. As long as the Revit material has the same name at time of export, UNIFI will automatically create a new revision and track who changed it and when. As always, you’ll also have the option to add a note so the rest of the team knows exactly what changed during each revision.
That right, introducing change management for your Revit material libraries!
Loading Revit Materials into a Project
Pulling Revit materials out of the cloud and loading them into a project works like any other piece of content in UNIFI. Simply click the preview image from any screen within UNIFI and it will be downloaded from the cloud, loaded into your project, and immediately be ready to paint onto faces.
If you prefer to only load the Revit material into your project so that you can control it parametrically, simply hit the escape key on your keyboard once the material is loaded into your project and the material will still be loaded in and ready to use in your material parameters.
It’s also worth noting that you can also batch load multiple materials into a project by simply selecting multiple materials in UNIFI (CTRL + Click , SHIFT + Click, CTRL+A) and then right-clicking and choosing Batch Insert from the pop-up menu.
Think about the improved workflows for grouping content by metatag; one would only need to filter by tag, select all, and batch insert to load an entire library of materials into their Revit project.
Your Revit Material Library in The Cloud
We hope this new feature will improve the way your firm manages and shares Revit material libraries by providing additional metadata and version control through our platform. If you’ve been struggling with managing Revit materials with your team, try sharing them in the cloud with UNIFI.
If you’re in the AEC space, you probably know that UNIFI is one of the leading content management platforms for sharing BIM objects. We are most known for our tight integration with Revit; you can even now store Revit materials in your libraries (more to come on this in next week’s blog post).
Although our platform is built specifically for managing BIM elements, people tend to forget that you can technically store virtually any filetype in your UNIFI libraries as well. Even our users who store content other than Revit families will typically store other CAD or BIM file formats such as 3DM, DWG, DGN, SKP, or even DYN.
But what about storing other files? Can our platform be used to store Word documents, PDFs, or Excel files? Short answer; yes.
Why Should I Store My Files in UNIFI?
UNIFI is known for making it easy to find and use BIM content, however we have several features that make storing your other files in your UNIFI libraries enticing. Here are the top three reasons why you should move some of your documents away from your archaic Windows file folder structure and into UNIFI.
1. Meta Data
One of our most popular features in UNIFI is our tagging functionality. Tags give you the ability to to apply metadata to any of your content in your libraries. This means that your Word Documents, PDFs, and Excel files can have any number of tags assigned to them, allowing your team to find them in an infinite number of ways. For example, a BIM Execution Plan stored as a Word Document might have tags such as “BIM Standards”, “Processes”, “Documentation”, “Project Kickoff”, etc. By using multiple tags in this fashion, you’re making it easier for your team to find.
In contrast, storing your files in a folder on your network drive means the file can only be found in one place.
2. Permissions Control
In UNIFI you have the ability to control permissions per library. Company administrators have the rights to grant (or restrict) access to content without the help of your IT department. Each library’s administrators have the rights to approve or reject content before it is published within the library.
Managing these types of permissions at a library level can make controlling read and write access much easier than dealing with folder permissions on your network drive.
On our platform, all content is automatically version-controlled. Anytime a document is revised and re-uploaded to your library, we’ll automatically create a new version and track who made the change and when. You can even add a note so that the rest of the team knows what was changed in the new version.
Many official documents such as standards manuals and guidelines have versioning (e.g., v4.0.1), so why not use Unifi to automatically track these versions for you, complete with the ability to roll back to a previous version?
These are only three features that I believe can help you manage your non-BIM content in UNIFI. Some other features worth mentioning that can be of use when storing documents in our platform are star-ratings, favorites, and saved searches. All features that are designed to make it easier to find your content. I encourage you to upload a few of your documents and see if it works for you and your team. Start with your BIM standards manual or perhaps some other versioned documentation.
Have you been using UNIFI to store your non-BIM content as well? Leave us a comment and let us know how your experience has been!
Las Vegas, NV, April 2019 – UNIFI Labs, a global leader in Better BIM©, is proud to announce Jim Gist as the company’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Jim is an accomplished marketing professional with over 30 years of experience in the software and engineering industries.
Based in Salt Lake City, UT, Jim will be responsible for translating UNIFI’s broader business goals into marketing objectives that drive revenue by establishing packaging and positioning for UNIFI’s product
line. As UNIFI works to grow the value its customers are realizing from their investment in BIM by reengaging stakeholders operating outside of the BIM model, he will lead the development and implementation of the company’s overall global marketing strategy, directly manage UNIFI’s marketing team, and oversee the branding, messaging, product marketing, communications, and lead generation efforts of the company.
“We are extremely excited to add Jim Gist to UNIFI’s executive leadership. Jim’s expertise in technology and software paired with his marketing experience and context for the AECO domain make him an
incredible addition to the team. I’m looking forward the positive impact I know Jim will have at UNIFI,” said Dwayne Miller, CEO at UNIFI Labs.
Jim acquired his impressive marketing expertise while serving in a variety of past positions, including his most recent roles as both CEO and CSMO at JBA Consulting Engineers. JBA is an engineering consulting company that has provided BIM, MEP, Fire, Technology and Acoustical engineering consulting for over 50 years. During his successful tenure at JBA, Jim launched The Advisor industry publication, established Artistic Engineering, a new technology expertise focused division, and grew the company globally with
offices throughout North America and China. “UNIFI represents a great opportunity to automate BIM data in a unique way that helps companies of all sizes become more efficient and profitable,” said Jim
Gist. “I believe UNIFI adds the intelligence to the BIM process, or what we call iBIM®. I look forward to elevating UNIFI as a best in class big data and AI within the BIM industry.”
Jim joins the team following a monumental year of growth and several significant milestones at UNIFI Labs, including the launch of Project Analytics, a combined data extraction and visualization tool that
gives users access to model health and quality analytics in minutes. UNIFI also recently deployed the ability to store and manage Revit material and fill pattern element types through UNIFI Pro and
expanded our partnership network by joining forces with bimstore, UK’s original BIM library, to increase access to high-quality BIM content for UNIFI customers.
About UNIFI Labs
UNIFI Labs is the global leader in cloud-based BIM content creation and data management. Our essential data platform delivers a Better BIM experience by helping users navigate the DARK BIM. Hundreds of
brands trust UNIFI for their BIM content/data management needs including Disney, Interior Architects, Katerra, Stantec, HOK, Legrand, and Pella.